Northwords Now

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by Rody Gorman

They’d all have cleared and ploughed and harrowed up and down and     
sown and spread in turn
Each lot of tacked inbye, outrun, drill and rig in their own townships and     
been around
The headlands of the Horn and Hope in the image here from way back     
The burns, black as the Styx, were full of salmon and brown trout and     
ling and char
Fairly abounded and a man could walk, they say, across the beach, then     
the Dornie and the sound
On the decks of brigs and gigs, cots, creelers, cutters, drifters,
gabbarts, luggers, merchantmen, pinnaces, smacks, scows, skiffs,
tramps, tugs, yawls and yoles and the frigates, big liners and tall
ships passing and tenders and old wrecks from the pier
On the island straight over to the cliff-fall and fixed light on the shore and     
Ben Screel on the the far side.

Today at first light the back of six in the morning in the light mist,     hail
and rain,
The flag on the slipway down at half-mast, Pibroch and Loch Carron and     
The flights of migratory terns and herring-gulls following them near     
As if they were a John Deere or Ferguson or a white Clydesdale or     
With MacInnes and MacLeod and their ancient landcraft and their hands,     
are the last pair to keep going out still.
They shift gear and bale out and cast off with their long-lines and deep-    
lines and bag-nets and darrows and light out on the slack tide,
Dragging and hauling on the ropes, letting go of an endless chain.

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